By now you may have guessed that we are just a little passionate about our garden. Now that we are at the mid-point of the year, the garden is really looking like a veggie garden. The pumpkin patch is huge and the pumpkins appear to try to claim more territory every day. We are attempting to “train” them to stay in their area but, pumpkins being pumpkins, their need to expand exceeds our training abilities. Some of the pumpkins on the vines are huge. This is one of the few “surprises” – me being the planner that I am. Last fall I bought several pumpkins for us to eat, then saved the seeds and threw them into the garden this spring without marking which was which.
The tomatoes did NOT like our wet May but have come good since the flood stopped and the temperature warmed up. Most of them have small green tomatoes on and a couple of over-achievers have already provided us with some welcome red fruits.
The potatoes, zucchini, onions, cowpeas, pinto beans, Mexican Red beans and greens all look good. The Bok Choy bolted almost immediately – it is really a cool season crop. So it has been removed and Okra – a warm season vegetable – planted in its place.
We’ve managed to stay ahead of the pests this year. Last year the Potato Bugs overwhelmed us because we didn’t realize we had them until they were already well established. This year we started checking the plants early and so far have prevented an infestation. We tried an experiment with a clutch of eggs, placing it in a container and checking it each day. The eggs hatched 8 days after we harvested them. This is useful information for us as it tells us we have a week to find any new clutches before they hatch. And that has allowed us to time our scans – overturning every leaf of every plant – to catch and remove egg clusters before they become a problem. Of course in doing this we often find the parent beetles and remove them as well.
The Squash Bugs were also a problem last year. Each day I check the underside of every zucchini leaf, looking for bugs and egg clusters and removing both. So far I’m winning – no nymphs have hatched.
The mulch is working well. A surprise was how fast the 4″ layer was broken down. With that came increased weeding and when I realized my “20 minutes every other day” had doubled, I also knew it was time for more mulch. I downloaded Ruth Stout’s book “Gardening Without Work” to my Kindle and in reading it, realized my 4″ was never enough. She recommends a minimum mulch layer of 8″! So, I’m currently killing two birds with one stone – raking out the sheep shelter and placing the contents – spoiled hay mixed with sheep poop – over the garden, one lawn cart load at a time. The areas I’ve already recovered are now weed free again.
The best update: we are eating salads again. A handful of freshly picked greens, a few leaves of basil, a couple of tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg and some of my freshly made feta cheese, and we are happy little vegemities!